My friend, Jim (Busy Dad) recently wrote of some things that happened in his childhood. I know very few individuals that were dealt with racism at such a young age (that I can actually identify with).
My memory doesn’t go as far back as my mom’s, of course. I can only remember being on the bad end of racism when I was in the 3rd grade while my Dad was stationed in Georgia. I should probably also mention that I was not in Atlanta or any other big city place in Georgia. We lived in Augusta, GA. I’ve only heard in my adult years that the big cities were nothing like the smaller towns.
I can remember my Mom having to meet us at the bus stop because of the relentless teasing and bullying by a couple of older kids, that the two little asian kids (me and my little sister) had to endure. My Mother (speaking very broken english) eventually got fed up with the “ching-chong …” slant-eyed mockery and marched one of the girls back to her own house to tell the girl’s mother what she had been doing. I can only assume she got in trouble because soon after that the teasing stopped.
As a military brat, one of the hardest questions to answer is “Where are you from?” but if you were to ask me “Where did you grow up?” I’d definitely tell you Korea. In Korea, there was some bullying but I was such a happy-go-lucky kid that it didn’t occur to me to have it really affect my growth. For all intents and purposes kids say and do mean things and hopefully the ones that were mean, regret every single thing they’ve ever done to torture other kids.
Or karma kicked in. Either one. I’m good.
What prompted me to blog about this was a story my mom told me and my dad during dinner last night. It was not a pleasant story. It is, in fact, a story about racism, in the worst possible way. A denial of entry into your “friend’s” house by her parents because of the color of your skin. I was probably around 4 when this happened. We lived in Arizona. Sierra Vista, Arizona to be exact. My mom would allow any kid to come over. No one was denied entry into the Apana backyard.
We had a swing set. We were pretty cool.
Well, one day the neighbor kids and myself were playing outside. Kim was a little girl that I guess I used to play with. I honestly don’t remember. This is how my mom relayed it to me. When we went over to her house, her mom/parents wouldn’t let me in the house. They let Mike (a BOY!) in the house but not the little Asian kid.
After hearing the story, I was livid. I couldn’t imagine my mother having to live in this world, being an immigrant, speaking very broken english and then having to deal with imbeciles the likes of these people. I wanted to go back as an adult and punch them in the face for making my mother feel bad. Luckily, I was protected from all of that as a child. I never even knew it happened. I can only pray that they changed and their children didn’t get the opportunity to know that type of bigotry.
While working very hard making $2.50 an hour and then taking about 3/4 of her paycheck, my mom put both me and my sister in a private preschool. She wanted to give us the best opportunity and the best education. I was that kid who said “HI Mrs So and So” to every single parent that I saw. And then having them ignore me. Let me tell you the reason why I say “Hi” back to the little kids that say “Hi” to me. Because I will NEVER do what those parents did to me. Children don’t deserve cruel treatment from grown-ups who are supposed to know better. They do enough damage to their peers and themselves.
I guess I never realized what my mom had to go through. I know now, and I’ll be damned if I would allow any of that to happen to my kids. I’d like to think that I’ll be as strong as my Mom when the time comes. The one advantage I have over my mom is that I speak English… and maybe a mean right hook. heh. *i’m kidding!!!*
The bottom line is, I am grateful that I was saved from what could’ve been very detrimental to my child psyche. I am thankful for my parents having raised us with our current values and ethics. I am forever indebted to my mother for having the strength to protect us, save us and in the meantime she kept it all in and together.
Any type of bullying should not be tolerated. Regardless of what the bullying is about. I am glad to know that I didn’t realize any of this happening when I was younger. My mom is the strongest woman I know. Even before knowing what I know now. Of course, knowing what she had to endure, I’m sorta inclined to consider her a Superwoman of sorts.
Or maybe I’ll just call her Mom.